Waikiki is our tourist trap.
Waikiki is an island on an island. It’s cut off from the rest of the island by the Ala Wai canal. It’s all about containment. It’s where we try to keep the tourists and extract money from them. It’s also home to hundreds of homeless people, crime, and some of the highest prices on the island (something not in the brochures).
It’s not all totally bad. It’s got the best beach to learn how to surf. It’s got the best night life (though Hawaii is definitely not known for its nightlife). And a lot of things are conveniently situated within the 2-square-mile confines of Waikiki.
You’ll probably end up booking a hotel in Waikiki since 99% of hotels are there so you’ll most likely have to home-base out of Waikiki, but daytime is better spent elsewhere. In fact, if you minimize your time in Waikiki you may end up really liking it.